By GREG AUMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 2, 2001
The game was mostly forgettable, the ratings among the lowest in Super Bowl history, but Sunday's event did surpass all before in one aspect: driving fans to the Internet.
Superbowl.com had 833,000 unique visitors Sunday and Monday, nearly four times its average over the previous three weeks, according to Jupiter Media Metrix, which tracks online traffic. All major sports sites saw spikes of 30 to 85 percent from their average traffic, and CBS.com had twice its normal draw.
"Compared to last year's Super Bowl, when traffic to most major sports sites remained flat ... Super Bowl XXXV will be remembered as a benchmark year in which the game's official broadcaster successfully drove massive traffic to online properties via in-game programming," Jupiter research analyst Christopher Todd said.
Perhaps more surprising, Superbowl.com turned a profit, something all but unheard of these days. The site boasted a record for "revenue generated for a single event sports Web site" with more than $3-million in advertising.
Among those advertisers was visittampabay.com, the site of the Tampa Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau, which spent about $45,000 on advertising and promotions. Through a contest, the bureau gave away a vacation package that included airfare, hotel accommodations and a pair of Super Bowl tickets. The site also supplied links and information for a "Visit Tampa Bay" page at superbowl.com.
Vicki Isley, the bureau's vice president for marketing and communications, said the advertising was "extremely effective." In November and December, the site averaged 3,000 user sessions per day, and that average increased 73 percent, to 5,200, in January, with a peak of 8,400 sessions Sunday. Isley said superbowl.com was the site's most active referrer last month, accounting for 46 percent of referrals.
To put $45,000 in perspective, that's as much as TV advertisers paid for a half-second of prime-time commercial airtime.
ASK A LEGEND: In conjunction with ABC's broadcast of Raising the Roof: Heroes of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow on Saturday, ABCsports.com is inviting fans to submit questions for tennis legend Althea Gibson, who won Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals in 1957 and '58.
The site, which will post an exclusive Q&A on Saturday, has features on Daunte Culpepper, Magic Johnson, Dusty Baker and Jerry Manuel, who are featured in the hour special.
TID-BYTES: With the XFL season kicking off Saturday, MSNBC.com has a comprehensive preview, with "players you've heard of" and "players you'll hear about" for each team. By no coincidence, NBC has a prime-time game each weekend. ... Sports Illustrated details its top 20 sports movies in this week's issue, and CNNSI.com has more on the good, the bad and, well, Caddyshack 2. You can download the preview trailers from 10 of the 20, ranging from Slap Shot to Raging Bull.
-- If you have a question or comment about the Internet or a site to suggest, send an e-mail to staff writer Greg Auman at email@example.com.
(Site, Prv. Avg.*, Jan. 28-29, Increase)
Superbowl.com -- 174,000 -- 833,000 -- 377.8%
Sportsline.com- 622,000 -- 1,148,000 -- 84.5%
CNNSI.com -- 284,000 -- 475,000 -- 67.3%
Foxsports.com -- 131,000 -- 214,000 -- 62.8%
NFL.com -- 317,000 -- 422,000 -- 33.3%
ESPN.com -- 1,032,000 -- 1,364,000 -- 32.2%
* previous 3-week average of same 2-day period; numbers are unique visitors